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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

NATURALISM                                       21

(1886) is also a picture of Berlin; the theme is much the same in
outline as that of Sudermann's Sodoms Ende.

Like the Harts,, two other popular philosophers of the group
of naturalists progressed from Marxist materialism to animism:

BRUNO   WILLE   (1860-1928)   and  WILHELM   BOLSCHE  (1862-1939);

both derived from the 'Psychophjsik* of Gustav Theodor Fechner
(1801-87), the philosophy which teaches that there are reciprocal
relations between psychic and physical processes.1 Bruno Wille
was a theologist turned Socialist freethinker; he kept up his preach-
ing, though unauthorized, to the 'free religious' community he
gathered round him. The title of one of his books3 Atheistische
Sittlicbkeit(i%<)z), is sufficiently informative. His poetry has passed
into limbo. Wilhelm Bdlsche strove, as a disciple of Zola, to link
poetry and science: in his Die naturwissenschaftlicben Grundlagen der
Poesie (1887) he argues that what mythology was for ancient poetry
the Darwinian theory should be for the literature of today. The
three volumes of his Das Liebesleben in der Natur (i 898, 1900,1902)
are still read; with a kind of animal symbolism he shows that the
functions of sex in man and animals are identical, and that the
sexual significance of certain things (e.g. the hair under the arm-
pits) has been obscured by culture: we must go to the beasts for
elucidation, which he does. There is symbolism, too, in Bolsche's
novel Die Mittagsgottin (1891), as indeed there is (on a grandiose
scale) in Zola's novels, which Bolsche too pedantically imitates.
Bolsche, Bruno Wille, the Harts, Holz and Schlaf were members
of the literary club Durch, at which the programme of naturalism
was discussed and defined. It was founded in 1886 by Conrad
Kiister, a doctor with literary tastes, Eugen Wolff (who coined
the term die Moderne to distinguish the movement from die Antike)>
and Leo Berg (1862-1908), one of the best essayists of the period.
Adalbert von Hanstein was another member; and Gerhart Haupt-
mann was to be the most famous. As far as political views go the

poetry - and those of the impressionists (following Verhaeren's Les vilks
tentaculaires)> in which the use of symbol does create a new genre. But there
are affinities of details: cf. for instance Julius Hart's 'engbrusfge Hauser* with
Rilke's *md neue Hduser^ die mit engen Bmsten / sich drangen aus den bangen Bau-
gerusten9. Quite Verhaerenesque is Die Grossstadt bei Nacht, a poem by Max
Haushofer, who was associated with the Munich School (Gedichte, 1864).

1 Fechner, a laughing satirist (Vergleichende Anatomie der Engel, 1825), dis-
cusses the possibility of life after death in Nanna oder das Seelenkben der Pflan^en
(1848), which explains R. M. Meyer's jesting remark that Bolsche progressed
from Nana (na, nal) to Nanna. (Baldur's wife Nanna was goddess of plants.)